Send to

Choose Destination
Hum Mov Sci. 2001 Nov;20(4-5):461-87.

The flip side of perception-action coupling: locomotor experience and the ontogeny of visual-postural coupling.

Author information

Department of Kinesiology, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco, CA 94132-4161, USA.


The possible role of motor development on psychological function is once again a topic of great theoretical and practical importance. The revival of this issue has stemmed from a different approach to the topic, away from Gesell's interest in the long-term prediction of psychological functions from early motoric assessments, toward an attempt to understand how the acquisition of motor skills orchestrates psychological changes. This paper describes how the acquisition of one motor skill, prone locomotion, has been linked to developmental changes in an infant's ability to regulate posture based on information available in patterns of optic flow. It is argued that the onset of prone locomotion presses the infant to differentiate spatially delimited regions of optic flow to effectively and efficiently control the important subtasks nested within the larger task of locomotion, namely, steering, attending to the surface of support, and maintaining postural control. Following this argument, a research program is described that aims to determine if locomotor experience is causally linked to improvements in the ability to functionalize peripheral optic flow for postural control or whether locomotor experience is merely a maturational forecaster of such improvements. Finally, a hypothesis is put forward that links the emergence of wariness of heights to infants' ability to regulate posture on the basis of peripheral optic flow. The paper's overarching theoretical point is the principle of probabilistic epigenesis, which states that one developmental acquisition produces experiences that bring about a host of new developmental changes in the same and different domains.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center